Located at 543 Divisadero is a very special establishment of historical significance to our neighbohorhood and San Francisco. You might gleen this fact from the vintage wallpaper that you can still find affixed to the walls today.
Club Waziema used to be called Club Morocco, which came from it's original owner Mr. Robinson who was stationed in Tunisia in Northern Africa during World War II. Upon Mr. Robinson's return, he decided to open a night club on Divisadero. Wazeima first opened in 1959 as a buzzing jazz club. Back then the club was accessible through two entrances, the current entrance on Divis, and a second entrance located where Popeye's is now standing. The stage that is currently found in the back was located in the center of the club and spawned the nickname "the horseshoe". One crazy aspect of the old Club Morocco is the fact that they used to feature three live cobras on stage that would dance out of woven baskets! According to Giday, one evening a snake went missing during a show and a bar back had to crawl under the stage with a flashlight to round it up.
Pictured above: Billie Holiday and former Club Morocco owner, Mr. Robinson
The history of live performers in the back room is insane! Some of the artists included: Billie Holiday, B.B. King, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, and Tina Turner just to name a few. The club made a huge mark in it's first iteration until it closed its doors in 1979.
The space sat empty for 20 eyars until Ethopian-born Giday Beshue and Nebiat Tesfazgi breathed new life into the bar in 1999. The couple added a delicious Ethopian menu on top of the bar's existing offering.
In January of 2020 after two decades of service,Club Wazeima received a commendation from the Board of Supervisors for their service to the community. In the well-deserved commendation, Supervisor Dean Preston stated,
" For over 20 years, Giday Beshue and Nebiat Tesfazgi have made Club Waziema a home for the community, bringing together neighbors with delicious Ethopian food, affordable drinks, and community events... CLub Wazeima carries on the tradition as a welcoming gathering space in a neighborhood from which so many African American owned businesses have been displaced. Club Waziema is a staple of the community, a gem of the Divisadero corridor, and a nostaligicglimpse into San Francisco's history."
After being closed for over year due to the pandemic, Wazeima has reopened with new temporary hours and SFDPH safety restrictions in place.
Club Waziema, 543 Divisadero street. Hours: Wednesday-Saturday 6pm-11pm, closed Sun-Tues.
Sources: The Corridor, SF Heritage, Waziema, Divisadero Corridor